Eight U.S. Freeski Athletes Advance Into Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Finals
If you’re not paying attention to the depth of talent and skill on the U.S. Freeski halfpipe team, the time is now. Tuesday, Dec. 8, marked the beginning of the road to Beijing, with five U.S. men earning half of the coveted slots to advance to the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix finals. 2021 Halfpipe champion Aaron Blunck, Alex Ferreira, Lyman Currier, Birk Irving, and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist David Wise threw down in the 22-foot Woodward Copper Superpipe to punch their ticket onward.
The U.S. women also rose to the challenge, with Brita Sigourney and Hanna Faulhaber confidently landing in the top five among the field of eight, advancing into Friday’s final.
The ladies kicked off the qualification phase, the best one of two runs counting. Olympic bronze medalist Sigourney made it look easy, earning the top U.S women’s score of the day.
“The pipe is really good; Copper did an amazing job,” Sigourney said of the conditions. “I pretty much did a couple of every trick I did in finals in practice, so there weren’t any firsts, but,” she hints, “finals might be another story.”
Seventeen-year-old teammate Hanna Faulhaber blasted down the pipe, giving the crowd a look at the exciting skiing style that we’ve come to expect from her. Estonia’s Kelly Silardu qualified first, followed by Eileen Gu, competing for China.
The men’s field did not hold back. Blunck led the charge, coming into the Toyota Grand Prix off a big win last March at the Aspen Grand Prix. He dialed his first run top-to-bottom linking up left double cork 900 into a right double cork 1260 to finish.
“This was definitely one of the heavier qualifiers, as it should be for the Olympic qualifiers.”, said Blunck. “My strategy was to just go put one down. I feel like I stress out so much during qualifiers. This morning I was like, just go have fun—it’s just another day of skiing, nothing is different. I thought that all day and I was like, perfect—let’s go. I did exactly what I set out to do, and I’m just super happy.”
Today’s results bode well for an incredible final. U.S. Freeski Halfpipe Coach Mike Riddle said, “Assuming we get good conditons, they can definitely step it up for finals. I’m just excited for Friday just to see where everyone is at in the first comp of the season, especially in an Olympic year. Every once in a while, you get a surprise.”
The Toyota Grand Prix Freeski Finals are set for Friday, Dec. 10. at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EDT
Friday, Dec. 10, 2021
2:30 p.m. FIS Freeski World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - LIVE, Copper Mountain, CO, Streaming Peacock, Broadcast NBCSN
Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021
2:00 p.m. FIS Snowboard World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - LIVE, Copper Mountain, CO, Broadcast NBCSN
2:00 p.m. FIS Snowboard World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - LIVE, Copper Mountain, CO, Streaming Peacock
5:00 p.m. FIS Freeski World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - next-day broadcast, Copper Mountain, CO, Broadcast NBC
Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021
1:00 p.m. FIS Freeski World Cup Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Halfpipe - next-day broadcast, Copper Mountain, CO, Broadcast NBC